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World Water Day

World Water Day is an international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference. World Water Day dates back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development where an international observance for water was recommended. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. It has been held annually since then.

Today, 1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030, making water a key issue in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty.

World Water Day - Theme for 2020 - Water and Climate Change

The theme for World Water Day 2020 is "Water and Climate Change".

Water is complex because it is linked to almost everything in the world. But complexity should not hinder understanding: Water is a precondition for human existence and for the sustainability of the planet.

Water is the primary medium through which we will feel the effects of climate change. Water availability is becoming less predictable in many places, and increased incidences of flooding threaten to destroy water points and sanitation facilities and contaminate water sources.

In some regions, droughts are exacerbating water scarcity and thereby negatively impacting people’s health and productivity. Ensuring that everyone has access to sustainable water and sanitation services is a critical climate change mitigation strategy for the years ahead.

Water and Soap Against the Coronavirus

Hand hygiene is essential to containing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other infectious diseases. On this World Water Day, and any other day, remember to wash your hands regularly with water and soap or with an alcohol-based hand gel.

See UNICEF's guidelines on handwashing and UN Water's fast facts on handwashing/ handhygiene.

Water Facts

  • 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home.
  • One in four primary schools have no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty.
  • More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
  • Globally, 80% of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas
  • Women and girls are responsible for water co-llection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises.
  • Over 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
  • For the 68.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.
  • Around 159 million people collect their drinking water from surface water, such as ponds and streams.
  • Around 4 billion people - nearly two-thirds of the world’s population - experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.
  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.
  • The wealthier generally receive high levels of WASH services at (often very) low cost, whereas the poor pay a much higher price for a service of similar or lesser quality.

Source : UN Water

Related Resources

  1. 2020 UN World Water Development Report
  2. Water Facts


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